‘THE PURPOSE OF MAKE-UP IS NOT TO MASK’
The way women relate to make-up has changed, Jérôme Touron, creative director of Hermès Beauty, tells Selina Denman
The way women relate to make-up is changing, says the creative director of Hermès Beauty
How women engage with make-up has evolved in the past ten years, suggests Jérôme Touron, creative director of Hermès Beauty, which launched its first product to much fanfare last month. “Women today have a great knowledge of make-up,” Touron tells me. “They know exactly what they like, what they want, what best suits their skin, what best suits their style and personality. So, more than ever, make-up says something about the person wearing it.”
It has become a uniquely personal form of self expression, he maintains. Something much more than skin deep. “It is at the same time a gesture of
self-aestheticisation, and something deeper, more introspective. Therefore, I think today, the purpose of make-up is not to mask, not to transform. Instead it’s about revealing the colour of the personality. It’s about creating a connection, a correspondence, between the way you feel inside and the way you look outside.”
It is also a form of self-care – something that women do for themselves, rather than others; an act for the benefit of inner reflection rather than outer perception. “It’s about well-being, about comfort and harmony with oneself,” Touron continues. “It’s also about taking care of oneself and taking time for oneself. If time is a luxury, make-up can again become a luxury. A simple and essential luxury.”
It makes sense, then, that when Hermès came to launch its first beauty product, it started with a line of lipsticks. Of all forms of make-up, it is a slick of colour on the lips that has the potential to have the most immediate impact. “The lipstick is special because it has the ability to reveal personality in a few seconds, in a single gesture, in just one application,” Touron maintains. “Instantly, it reveals the colour of the personality. In a way, it exemplifies our conception of beauty: to reveal, not to transform. Hence the desire to start Hermès Beauty with a lipstick.”
The luxury maison debuted its 16th metier, or product category, with Rouge Hermès, a collection of 24 lipsticks – a nod to the address of brand’s historic headquarters on 24, Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris. Initiated five years ago, the project brought together various areas of the maison’s time-tested expertise: Pierre Hardy, creative director of Hermès jewellery and shoes, designed the case. Bali Barret, artistic director of the women’s universe and creative director of women’s silk, contributed her vision of femininity and colour; while Touron transformed this vision into actual make-up.
The myriad lip colours are housed in a distinct and elegant looking receptacle that is almost totemic in its design – a bold stack of lacquered, brushed and polished metal, in black, white and gold. “This object was about giving form to beauty – an impalpable, fragile, elusive, unpredictable and diverse combination of qualities. I sought a simple, radical form that would be a suitable receptacle for the sophistication it contains,” Hardy tells me.
Consisting of 10 matt and 14 satin finishes, the lipsticks come with exotic-sounding names such as Beige Kalahari, Rose Dakar, Rose Mexique and Rouge Amazone – another nod, perhaps, to the brand’s heritage and the curious, exploration-loving Emile Hermès, who is credited with laying the foundations for the brand in its current manifestation. The lipsticks are made from natural active ingredients, including white mulberry, which has antioxidant properties, and sesamine, a sesame seed extract, which has moisturising properties. For comfort and protection, formulas also contain beeswax, candelilla wax and shea butter.
The lipstick line is complemented by a lip care balm, Poppy lip shine, a lip pencil and a lip brush cra ed from lacquered wood, as well as a collection
of leather accessories, including a lipstick case with an integrated mirror and a moon-shaped mirror on a cord, all made in luxurious Madame calfskin. The plan is to unveil new Hermès Beauty products every six months from September, until a complete line of make-up is created.
The brand has long been conscious of how colour interacts with the skin – whether it’s a multi-hued silk scarf that ties at the neck or a brightly patterned piece of clothing. Emile Hermès was the first person to invent a signature colour on leather when he introduced “rouge Hermès” in 1925 –a shade that sits elegantly between purple, burgundy and brown, and has become a house classic. “At Hermès, colour is an irrational, intoxicating passion, a cra smanship of nuances, an obsession with striking the right tone, and a language all of its own,” says Barret.
So when it came to finding inspiration for its lipsticks, the team had a wealth of sources to mine. “At Hermès, colours travel,” says Touron. “They are reinvented from one material to another: from silk to leather, enamel or lacquer.
“In Lyon, we have more than 75,000 colours in our archives, just for silk. That was an extraordinary source of inspiration for lipstick shades. That was pure freedom. And at the same time, the idea was to choose from these endless possibilities to create a perfectly edited range of 24 emblematic shades. This was a challenge. In the same way, for the matt and satin textures of the lipstick, we worked around a hundred variations, over almost three years.”
With its manifold finishes and fundamentally tactile nature, leather – the cornerstone of the Hermes brand, which started out as a saddle maker in 1837 and now uses its mastery of the material to cra the world’s most coveted handbags and accessories – informed Touron’s approach. The brand’s archives are currently home to leather in 900 different hues.
“I’ve imagined the finishes of the lipsticks in resonance with certain finishes of leather,” Touron explains. “Like an analogy of materials, both tactile and visual. The matt finish is inspired by Doblis leather, with its so , velvety, almost powdery feel. The satin finish is inspired by Box leather, with its smooth, shiny and luminous look.”
To describe the process, Touron draws from the world of art. “Hermès is freedom in a frame. It’s like a Carré. There is a profusion, an infinity of possibilities, and at the same time, a frame that is clear and precise. Make-up works exactly the same way. There is an infinity of options in terms of colours, textures and types of application... and at the same, it has to meet a certain function.”
Ultimately, beauty may be new as an official category for the brand, but it is certainly not new as a concept. “In a way, beauty has always been there. Beauty can be found in all Hermès’ métiers, from bags and luggage, to silk, ready-to-wear, shoes, jewellery, watches and many others… So to me, make-up is a natural continuation, a new expression of Hermès’ idea of beauty. Like perfume, it adds a final touch. It’s part of the same idea of “art de vivre”.
The lipstick is special because it has the ability to reveal personality in a few seconds, in a single gesture, in just one application
Rouge Hermes is a collection of 24 lipsticks, including 10 matt and 14 satin-finish shades, in an elegant case by Pierre Hardy